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Where are all the Biking Eccentrics?

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' at netrider.net.au started by PatB, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. I've been pondering something recently. I cut my biking teeth in the UK, living in a city of about 800,000 inhabitants. There were always loads of bikes around, but what sticks in my memory most firmly are the various eccentric characters who were around the scene at that time and who were familiar, at least by sight, to everyone who rode in the area.

    On any given day out on the roads there would be:-

    Tarzan, whose riding attire consisted of helmet, boots and speedos in all weathers, on his newish Honda CG125.

    Pegleg, an elderly gentleman whose left knee didn't bend and so he was to be regularly seen on the most incredibly ancient, slow and smoky Lambretta Ld, with his left foot supported on a bracket from the legshields, somewhere around headlamp height.

    The little Indian engineer who could be seen gunning the Rattiest Norton Dominator in the World through peak hour traffic every day on his regular commute.

    The Flying Crucifix, an old Jap four with the widest, most forward footpegs I've ever seen, combined with the highest apes ever and a grotty, bodge welded hardtail conversion, ridden by a skinny young bloke who seemed to have stepped straight out of some low budget, early '70s, British outlaw biker docudrama. Always splitting traffic at 10/10ths.

    Captain Wheelie on his old (well, not so old back then), matt black, defairinged, motocross barred, Pre-EXUP FZR1000.

    A bloke who used to build (and ride daily) the most astonishingly ugly but cleverly engineered bikes and trikes around what mostly appeared to be discarded Ford Pinto lumps. In hindsight, he created the Triumph Rocket 3 twenty years before Triumph did.

    Biggles, whose daily ride was a Brough Superior SS80 with the world's finest collection of oil leaks and an untidy but functional modern electrical system based around a car alternator and a huge Yuasa battery.

    An old chap of about 90 who still got around on a Yam XS250 with a single seat sidecar on the side.

    Occasionally you'd see Royce Creasey on one of his favoured feet forwards designs.

    Along with a large supporting cast of rats, chops, Eastern Block strokers and outfits, C90s with cabin trunk sidecars, Mad Max refugees and the rest of us down at the bottom of motorcycling's food chain attempting to have a little seriously low budget fun.

    I don't see anything like that these days, here in another country, and it's one of the few things I miss about that particular time and place. Maybe they don't exist anywhere any more, either driven out by rising costs and arbitary roadworthiness requirements or, at the other end of the economic scale, swallowed up in the Great Harley Explosion of recent years.

    The thought makes me sad.
  2. I see an old bloke on a RD a few days a week when I commute, looks like he's had it since new... At least I like to think so...

    Last "character" I saw was a bloke who looked exactly like a pirate on an MT-01 down the GOR, complete with Aviators & open face helmet to show off his giant orange beard!

    He gave me the most enthusiastic nod I've ever seen :)

    Would a ratted/cafe'd CX500 with polished Comstars count as eccentric PatB? Or just perverted?
  3. I want to say something light and funny, but I'm struggling. Eccentricity is being squeezed out of the modern world, the way it was out of germany in the '30s and america in the '50s. In the old days, if you were a bit different and daft, you probably rode a motorbike. It's not like that any more. In the old days, cars cost more than bikes and bikes were cheap transport, sometimes a bit inconvenient in their own way, but there was no real impediment to buying and owning one, and government intervention was minimal. Today, that's all changed. You can't get a learner's permit for a bike unless you've driven a car for years, and any bike worth having costs more to run than a small car, and all we hear day in and day out is how dangerous bikes are, and how even returning heroes and world champions warn us not to ride them unless we can borrow the Green Lantern's undies... It's just a bit hard to see the delightfully eccentric characters we both remember surviving the modern world's demand of "Where are your papers? Your papers are not in order!"

    PS: The model aeroplane propeller on my helmet is actually a fully functioning dynamo which powers my de-gauzing gear, but it does require an aluminium foil lining to prevent the cia from reading my thoughts. On the down side, this does prevent traffic light sensors from detecting me, and the daily 3km commute can take up to 8 hours...
  4. If eccentricity is measured in ratbikes and bizarre custom conversions, yeah, I suppose such things are strangely absent overall.

    Though I'd nominate FLUX's strtfghtr - vowels seem too decadent and wasteful when describing his "I found 20kg of dead weight under the pillion seat" more-naked-than-naked Daytona 675 which weighs in something like 15kg lighter than Triumph's own Street Triple.

    Deadman's capital-S capital-T Sport Touring Blackbird, with monster bar risers for proper gentlemanly comfort on what was once the fastest bike in the universe 'til it was eclipsed by the 'busa and ZX14.

    And I recall seeing a BMW GS1150 around The Famous Robertson Pie Shop which had been turned into some sort of 500 kilogram Mad-Maxian trailbike from hell, with knobbly tyres no doubt borrowed from a monster truck and a "You call that Enduro? THIS is Enduro" monster plastic fueltank that'd put the Exxon Valdez to shame if it ever ruptured. The whole bike had this sort of caked-on and gauged-out wear and tear, the type that only comes from doing about five laps of Australia without touching asphalt once.

    I dunno... There're still some curious oddities out there. :) I love the above sorta things - riders modifying or piecing together bikes to suit their practical wants and needs, making the bike they want to own. It's far more interesting and exciting to me than people blinging out their sportsbikes with shiny rim tape and matched-colour leathers.
  5. You remind me that there is one bloke I see reasonably regularly who has a mgnificent, grey beard that extends back over his shoulders at speed. He used to ride an oldish Guzzi (possibly a Cali 1) but he's got a Harley now. Unless there's two of him :D.

    Sadly, I tend to agree. The wowsers are firmly in the ascendent at the moment, at least in the English speaking world.

    That said, when I attended the NumDuc Rally a few years ago, I was pleased to note that the biking world here does include some serious oddballs. They just seem to have been driven into hiding apart from at the odd sheltered event.

    Well, it's not an infallible gauge, but it does tend to mark the owner as being well outside the mainstream :D.

    OTOH, Tarzan, the old guy with the sidecar and the myriad owners of stockish MZs, Jawas, Cossacks, to name but a few, had bikes that weren't, in themselves, remarkable from a custom point of view but certainly had world views that placed them as a minority within a minority.

    Sure there are, but they're not an everyday sight any more.
  6. I get my license back in two weeks.
  7. I've spent most of my time on shitty old bikes and part of the 'problem', I think, is that old pieces of crap are now the same price as a good quality 90s bike with less kms! Why would you buy the old crap?

    And it's with the cheap old stuff that you feel most motivated to go ratty or high bars etc. I've wanted to go high bars on the Hornet 600 all year, and would have them had it been an old CX500 where the handling couldn't be any worse, but the handling is just so good on the Hornet that it felt like a pretentious waste.

    I suspect the case is different where there are lots of rat bikes - eg Germany - and different where there is snow and salt on the roads, and different where people travel shorter distances at slower speed. Plus I think Kneedragon's got a good point.
    Ride your piece of shit through Reefton this summer and the pigs will do you. And this is a conservative materialistic age where many people feel the need to go into debt to ride / drive a shiny machine rather than have what they can afford. I noticed this at a family gathering recently - people working in small-town supermarkets or as lawn mower mechanics, and everybody's got a shiny high-powered newish car, no matter how young they are, while my Dad turns up in the 20yo thing which is the nicest one he's every had.

    And safety is used as a discourse to enforce the age. For years I had some people trying to talk me out of my old bikes, because "they're not safe."
  8. As teenagers, We didnt have the money available today for new bikes,

    So it was put any thing together you could lay your hands on to make a bike that worked,
    Hence Tribsa's, Tritons Norvilles, Vintons, Volkseemer, AJTons, BSATons, The list goes on,

    They were roadworthy and registered, and did lots of miles, We wouldnt touch a Harley back then, as it would not get you home again, Most times they wouldnt get you there either,
  9. You can't even ****ing touch the rear fender nowadays, how can you do anything like back then? :(
  10. There's the guy who had the metal shop out behind the kulnurra general store. He's now bought the remains of the halfway house and wants to set something up there. He's proper eccentric, bordering on plain barking.
  11. i pass this guy on my way home from work some days he rides a scooter...

    the scooter, standard 50cc but he has added a Harley Davidson windscreen this thing is almost the same size a the scooter

    the guy, full Harley garb half shell helmet black leather jacket and vest
  12. His name is Dave - Benn0551 and I met him on Sunday, and I totally agree with your assessment Lilley! Does he ride though?
  13. You've reminded me - there was a bloke getting around Logan a few years ago, who'd started out trying to make his 250 Virago look more like a real Harley. By the time I saw it, it practically WAS a harley, except it still had the virago motor... Straight through shotgun pipes, real harley tanks, seat, biatch bar... front end.
  14. Don't think he rides. Don't think he can afford to ride. He said he was going to be setting up some motorbike thing, museum or something.
  15. Yeah he's got BIG plans!
    - Moving the statue to the north driveway and plumbing into a pond below. The female half will shoot water from her boobies.
    - Make a covered walkway/parking strip for bikes.
    - Rebuild the coffee shop/art gallery
    - Open up the property at the rear for trail riding, pending agreement from the neighbours.

    So far he's managed to part-build the wall for the pond, and has built a couple of postboxes that look like Ned Kelly. Oh, and a couple of emus out of bike parts.